James Forsyth

The tide turns on public spending

The tide turns on public spending
Text settings

If further proof were needed that the public’s attitude to public spending has changed it comes in the latest Guardian / ICM poll. It finds that 64 percent of voters think that spending should be being reduced now as opposed to 28 percent who want it increased: the electorate is on the other side of Brown’s favourite dividing line. Even among Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters, a majority favour cuts.

Amongst those who favour cuts, the Tories have a significant advantage. 46 percent of those who support cuts think Labour would cut too little with 21 percent saying it would cut too much. With the Tories, 30 percent worry they would cut too much and 22 percent that they would not cut enough.

The Tory leadership will be happy with these numbers, seeing them as a justification for their whole approach to the issue. But it strikes me that the Tories could afford to be bolder now on the subject, something that would stand them in good stead in government where they will have to introduce cuts pretty much on day one.